The Southern Hills Are Full of Cars

It’s rare that I head south out of the city when I go walking, but I did today, and it reminded me of why I usually don’t. The traffic. Once you get on to the little winding back roads it’s fine, but to get there you have to get out of the city, and that’s a lot less than fun.

Narrow roads. Lots of cars. No sidewalks, and plenty of bends in the road where you don’t see if there are cars coming in the other direction.

Not pleasant.

That said, there were some good views from up there, and once I got up to the top of the hill the road was a little wider and there was more space to step off to get out of the way for oncoming traffic.

There was a reason I decided to come this way though. My friend L, who I visited the other day, told me of a nice little place just beyond the airport and suggested I pay it a visit.

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Don’t go there, and by “go” I mean “walk” – it’s a great place, but the next time I’ll get someone to drive me.

The Workshop really is a nice little place. Tea was served in old china and they had plenty of little antique knick-knacks sitting around, giving the place a pleasant vintage atmosphere.

I felt a little bit like an outsider though. Every time a plane went by overhead I was the only one looking up and wondering what was going on and what the loud noise was. Everyone else was clearly used to it and didn’t seem to notice at all.

The food was good, but not quite substantial enough after having walked nearly 8 kilometers. Then again, I can’t imagine it’s meant to be, and if I’d used my brain I would have ordered something other than a salad. The soups and sandwiches looked really good.

Also, as I sat there, it started to rain…

So I ordered dessert and sat a little longer. After all, I’d gotten a big pot of tea and I couldn’t just leave all of it, could I? I got some writing done, ate a brownie, drank more tea, and waited out the rain.

Going homewards I took a different route, and this is when I finally found one of those pleasant little back roads I mentioned before, where walking is a pleasure of nearly complete trafficlessness.

Sure, the rain came back again, but it wasn’t too bad, and my jeans didn’t soak through completely until I was nearly home anyway.

One of the fascinating things about walking in Ireland is how the hills help you track your progress. Sometimes when I reach the top of a hill I can see to road ahead snaking down into the valley and up the hill on the other side. I see where I’m headed. The horizon is always far away, but it’s fascinating to think that that’s where I’m going.

Eventually, I get there, and I can turn around and look back and see all the way to the previous hill and wonder at how far I’ve come since I stood there.

I’m sure it’s similar in other places, but I haven’t really done all that much walking anywhere else, so here is the first place I’ve really experienced it myself.

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The Southern Hills Are Full of Cars

Hailstorm and Blinding Sun

I didn’t mean to go walking today. Last night I felt like it, and I looked up what bus to take and when it left and everything, and then I checked the weather. The weather report told me to stay home – except in different words. On top of that my friend C advised me to stay home, drink coffee, and eat nice food.

So in the end I decided not to go, and I didn’t get up early to take the first bus to Dripsey as I’d planned. I stayed in bed, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Then, when I eventually got out of bed and headed out to get a coffee and do a bit of writing, I discovered that there wasn’t any rainstorm going on, and after some less than careful decision making I decided to take the mid-day bus and go walking anyway. After all, I wore my rainproof jacket and I’d just bought a pair of rainproof trousers to wear over my regular ones just for this kind of thing.

On the bus to Dripsey the rain showed up

I’m really happy the rainproofs held up. I got a bit cold when stopping to take pictures, but I stayed dry through it all.

After a little over an hour I reached my first stop, Blair’s Inn. I’d also planned on stopping at Angler’s Rest, but once I got there I was tired enough I just wanted to get home (and then I ended up not taking the shortest route anyway, because of traffic) so this was the only real break during the walk.

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In the summer I’d have gone for a pint, but it just didn’t feel right with the cold and wet.

While I sat there, waiting for my coffee (and a bowl of soup, which was nice but a little too warm – or I was too hungry), I noticed that the rain stopped. Sunlight peeked in through the windows. The rest of the walk would be nice.

Two minutes after I stepped out of the pub it was raining again.

It was also at about this time that my feet started to ache. I bought new boots last week, and I’m trying to break them in. They’d been fine so far, and I had no issues with them yesterday. Not sure why they were acting up now. I tried untying and retying them a few times but it didn’t really help any. There wasn’t much to do but keep going and hope I got used to it.

The pain wasn’t unbearable, and my main concern was that my walking step would change in some unnatural way in order to compensate for it, rather than that my feet would take any serious damage. In the end I seem to have gotten home fine, and I took care to stretch properly so hopefully there won’t be any niggling issues from this.

Also, the sun showed up again.

Okay, so I may have gotten a little bit carried away there, but it’s a lot more fun taking pictures of bright sunny hillsides than dull grey rain.

In the end, despite the rain and wind and hail, and despite my aching feet and tired legs, I’m happy I went. It was a great day on the road, but the next time C tells me to stay home and drink coffee I’ll pay more attention to that. It’s good advice too.

Hailstorm and Blinding Sun